How to Best Give to Nepal

The Nepal earthquake is devastating. The choices to give for those of us who want to support the Nepalese can be overwhelming and confusing. My belief, that is shared by many others, is that giving locally to individuals and small organizations in the impacted region is the best way to get the most relief for your money to the people affected the most.

My friend Noah Howard has an import business, Ark Imports, that produces goods in Nepal for sale on the web and in retail specialty stores. He has started a fund-raising campaign. In his words “I am raising money to send to people I know and trust in Nepal who will give the $’s directly to those in urgent need.” Noah is very trustworthy and I have donated funds through his campaign. If you want to give, I ask you to consider this too.

Strength is the Source of Challenge

20150314_152304I arrived in Sydney yesterday and have been reminded of a valuable lesson in my first day. I’m here visiting the global headquarters of Avoka Technologies. As I explained in a previous post, I am the VP Client Services North America at Avoka, and while my team is all in the US, there are many people I work with on a daily or weekly basis here in Australia. The office is in a northern suburb of Sydney called Manly. Sydney is deep into Sydney harbor, which has a lot of mini-peninsulas. This is relevant to the rest of this post, so I have included a map here so you can see what I mean:


I flew in, and took the train to the Sydney wharf, and then took a ferry to Manly. A friend, who lives in the area, met me for lunch and took me on a walking and driving tour around the area that I have circled in red.

I had a great time being shown around and educated on Sydney and Australia. One thing that came up is how difficult it is to get around the Sydney area because of all the waterways. The bridges and tunnels available create a bottleneck for getting across the water, thus making traveling from one place to another more difficult.

What is interesting is that all the water, and how much coastline you get from all the bays and mini-peninsulas, is one of the most alluring and attractive characteristics of the area. There are so many coastline cliffs, peaceful bays, and rocky outcroppings with amazing views:




I come across this all the time – strength is also the source of challenge. My friend mentioned a lesson he learned about this from his dad when his career was early on. When he was having difficulty with some people he was managing, his dad asked him to think about what their greatest strengths were, and helped him see that their greatest strengths were on the other side of the coin to the challenges in working with them. I have found this to also be true as I have worked to make myself better at what I do. Where I need to improve and my biggest strengths are mirrors of each other in important ways.

When looking to overcome any challenge, the first thing I do is look at the strengths available that can be used as resources in rising to the challenge. I take this approach when dealing with issues in organizations, relationships, technology, individuals – anywhere, really. I have noticed the pattern of challenges arising from strength in all of it.

I invite you to consider the relationship between your greatest strengths and your biggest challenges, and see if it is useful.

How To Use LinkedIn to Land a Great Job

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Here is the link to an article I wrote on LinkedIn, about how to use LinkedIn in a job search:

Here is the introduction:

LinkedIn enabled me to land a great new job. On December 1, I started as the Vice President Client Services for Avoka Technologies. Avoka’s products improve how customers interact with your company over the web on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

I could go on for a while about how well Avoka is doing and what a great fit the role is for me, but the intention behind this post is to tell the story of how I wouldn’t have the job if I didn’t effectively use LinkedIn. I will also highlight key lessons learned that others can follow.

Please click on the link above to read the full article.

(above image credit here)

The Bastardization of Customer Success

Please see my guest post on the Totango blog:

Totango is one of the leading Customer Success products. For those of you unaware, there is an entire technology domain dedicated to building tools to help with the effort of Customer Success. It is a fast growing space, and I had the pleasure of meeting some folks from their team while they were on their tour-stop in Denver.

White Paper: Developmental Stages of the Customer Relationship

I’m excited to publish the Developmental Stages of the Customer Relationship white paper, which can be found on the Resources page of the website. Below is a summary and a link to the white paper, for easy access:

In a world where customers consume technology on a recurring-revenue basis and can more easily switch vendors, revenue is at risk with each renewal cycle. In addition, new revenue from existing customers costs 20% less than new revenue from new customers. This has amplified the focus on the customer. To ensure renewals and create opportunity for up-sell, it is important to understand where you are in enabling your customer’s success.

Companies grow through developmental stages. The developmental tasks relevant to each stage must be mastered in order to progress and realize future growth. Developmental tasks can be categorized into developmental lines. The developmental lines relevant to providing value to the customer are: On-boarding / Professional Services, Technical Support / Day-to-Day Care, and Continuous Value Creation. This white paper presents a model that can be used to assess where you are in the development of your customer relationships, and plan and anticipate what you need to do next. By applying this model, you can ensure you are taking the required action to make your customers successful, reduce churn, and fuel your future growth.

Download Customer Development Stages White Paper

Thanks to my mom for giving the document a final edit for grammar and punctuation.

Casting For Recovery: No-Cost Supportive Retreat for Women with Breast Cancer

My friend Marlene Collins, who hosted my wedding celebration, is a breast cancer survivor and is one of the organizers of “Casting for Recovery”. They help women with breast cancer overcome the physical and psychological challenges through fly fishing. Cabella’s funded the creation of this video.

If you know a woman who has breast cancer, share this with her and have her apply for a retreat through the national website. There is no cost to attend.

Drenched by the Black Sea – Farewell Georgia

The Black Sea gave me a fitting farewell on our last day in Georgia. Batumi, where we spent the last day, is a great little city on the Black Sea coast. I went to the beach – with dark sand and small rounded black rocks underfoot. The was a storm on, and wave after wave rolled onto the shore. Looking out at the gray sky and the blue-brown sea it looked like it was boiling, and would certainly be treacherous to swim. Still, my desire to wet my feet with the Black Sea was strong, and what harm could come from just getting to the edge of the seemingly tame ebb and flow of the waves’ edge on the black-rock beach?


I took off my shoes and socks, put down my backpack, and rolled up my jeans. The water felt great, so I walked in a little more, getting most of my feet wet when the wave completed it’s journey and folded over itself up the beach, gently splashing between my toes and pulling the sand away beneath my feet as it rescinded back to the mother that birthed it. It was delightful, looking out unto the sea and fantasizing about Jason coming to just about this same spot with the Argonauts, in search of the Golden Fleece. I turned to get a picture of the coast, and when I looked back outward, I saw a formidable swell approaching. It took me a little too long to realize how close that swell was. It took me a little too much longer to realize it was going to crash where I was standing.

I turned and ran. I did manage to get away from the crash of the crest, but was not far enough to avoid getting myself and my clothes completely soaked by the spray and froth. It was a shocking delight to be bested by the Sea. As the surge up the shore enveloped my ankles, it reached my shoes and turned them into tiny Argo’s – I imagined them in search of tiny Golden Fleeces as I scoped them out of the frothy water. I picked up my partially submerged backpack as I made my way out of the thrilling Black bathing.

What a great way to end the journey and start the travels home (after a shower and an excellent Ukrainian meal, that is). Thank you to all the people who were are part of this fantastic voyage – Sophia, Sasha, Fazil, all the therapy training workshop participants, the business workshop participants, the hotel staff, waiters, taxi drivers, train operators, and on. Thank you Steven for making it all possible, for being such a force that people will fly from other eastern nations to see you in Georgia.

Georgia, thank you. Black Sea, thank you.


Visiting Georgian Historical Sites


We were planning on taking the train from Tblisi to Batumi, on the coast of the black sea. But a friend drove to Tblisi who lives in Baku, Azerbaijan, and instead five of us drove across Georgia in his Mercedes station wagon. It was a long drive. When night fell last night, our friend, Fazil Abdullayev (Adil and Fareed’s father for those who recognize those names) was tired because he drove all night from Baku. I was the only other person in the car legal and suitable to drive. So, I drove for two hours in the Georgian night on a twisty mountain road. And of course it rained. And if you haven’t been here the driving is well, interesting. It is not as bad as being on the road in India (where I have not driven), and certainly not as tame as driving in the US. It was a difficult drive.

We made it to Kutaisi before having to stop for the night. That is the same city where I posted from last week with the Svengali singers. Fazil was alert enough to drive today – thank goodness, because the roads didn’t get much better, and we drove through more towns, which are harder to navigate. We did get a flat tire along the way. Here is a picture of the family that helped us at the roadside store.


We had an awesome Ukranian meal in Batumi, which is a lovely seaside resort city. We then went to Gonio and visited in ancient Roman fortress, built in 300 B.C. There is a marker for the apostle Mathew’s grave here, which is pretty cool. What I really liked was walking along the top of the wall, imagining Roman solidies 2,300 years ago walking along that same wall. Here is the path on the wall:


And here is Sasha, Sophia, and Fazil:


Our flight home leaves in 29 hours, so tomorrow is the last morning we will wake up to in Georgia. It’s been a great trip, and I’m excited to get home.

Instead of Using a Translator, Partner With a Co-Facilitator

We finished up the Satir Model training today. It was a successful workshop, with every participant feeling like they got much more than their money’s worth. This post is about what a great job my friend Sasha did with translating between Russian and English. Sophia also did well when Georgian translation was required, and the four of us worked great as a team, but I particularly want to admire Sasha for now.

What was great about his performance is that he did not function as a translator. He was an integral part of the facilitation team. Steven was clear with him before the workshop began that he was not here to be a translator. That what we needed was someone who was going to be part of the facilitation team – which was Steven, me, Sasha, and Sophia.

About half-way through the workshop Sasha asked me how I thought he was doing. I told him I thought he was doing an amazing job. I could tell that he was not just translating literal words. Sasha has a PhD in Psychology and has been studying the Satir Model for many years with Steven, Laura Dodson, and others. When I or Steven would explain a concept in English, then Sasha would transform it into words that convey the message in Russian. A direct translation would rarely, if ever, suffice. When this happens, it is like having two people saying one thing.

For example, teaching is a creative art, and when I communicate a concept, the original words in English contain my creation of how to teach the topic. Then Sasha adds his creativity to the message as it is communicated in Russian. In this way, that set of words has meaning that makes sense and is able to be assimilated by more people, because it encompasses two people’s teaching style.

20141014_132911Because of Sasha’s high level of competence, there were also plenty of times where he would be able to give important information in Russian without me or Steven saying a word. There were a couple people who at times were not able to understand the concept in Russian, and needed to hear it in their native Georgian. Then, it would start with English, and Sasha would transform to Russian, and Sophia would transform to Georgian. That was interesting. And surprisingly, not a hinderance. This is due purely to how good Sophia and Sasha are.

Here is a picture of  Sasha (aka Dr. Alexander Cheryomukhin), who is not only an excellent facilitator, but a dear man who is fun to be around and has a great sense of humor. He humored my photographer-self when I requested this model pose of my euro-friend dressed in euro-attire standing in a euro-city.


Satir / Young Dot-to-Dot

Another good workshop day here in Tbilisi. During the day, I had a couple connect-the-dots moments, where I saw the how different Satir vehicles and Steven Young lessons connected horizontally and vertically. Here, I explain two of dot-connections: how credible images map to the Ways of Seeing the World model and how liminality and change are related to specific Satir vehicles.

Mapping Credible Images to Ways of Seeing the World

During the day, Steven and I introduced the Ways of Seeing the World model. Below is a picture of it in four languages – English (black ink on top), Ukranian (blue), Russian (bright red), and Georgian (light red or black on bottom).  We explained that the basis for everything we do as helpers and healers is to move people from a hierarchical view of the world to an organic view of the world.


After that, Steven led a very good piece for a woman whose grandfathers had died in wars. Since we are training therapist / psychologists the biggest part of the group processing is to discuss the process, not so much what people learned personally (although there is a lot of it, for sure).

One woman commented how she noticed toward the end when Steven said “let me show you what didn’t happen” it really changed the dynamic and how it deepened the learning for the star (the person who offered themselves as the “client”). I explained that this was Steven presenting the star with credible images of how she could make the change in herself that she desired. I wove in that every time you hear those words, you know that a credible image of change is being presented, and that the change will move the star’s way of seeing the world from Hierarchical to Organic. I invited the trainees to consider which of the four aspects of the Ways of Seeing the World model (the rows in the chart above) we are presenting a credible image of each time we say “let me show you what didn’t happen”. It was a great connect-the-dots teaching, that was very helpful to the attendees.

How Liminality and Change are Related to Specific Satir Vehicles

In the evening, we presented a special seminar on Liminality for people who paid in advance. During that, Steven explained that when you get to the point in working with someone where they need to change the meaning about themselves and accept how deeply they love instead of feeling worthless, that is the sacrifice required for change to happen here and now in the liminal space. For those more familiar with the work of Virginia Satir, we are talking about the Feeling about the Longing in the Anger Model.

In addition to making a sacrifice yourself, it is the practitioners job to judge the sacrifice of the client – is it enough the create the change desired? If it is not enough, you don’t judge it as such. You cannot ask for, let alone demand, the sacrifice. You can explain what is required for the desired change to occur; but you cannot ask the client to do it. You can only judge the sacrifice they make and not let something go that will not suffice for the client.